Raising respectful children

Raising respectful children

Raising respectful children

What is respect?

Respect means admiring someone or keeping them in high regard. It is usually shown as a positive action or behavior towards one person.  Most of the time, a person’s age determines the respect they deserve. Because respect is a positive attribute, it is important to teach kids about respect. For example, saying thank you to the waiter at a restaurant. Wishing good morning or saying hello. Raising respectful children can be a challenging task. But if we look at things from children’s perspectives and unlearn our conditioning, this can be easy to achieve.

Concept of respect in our culture

In terms of Indian culture, respect is given a lot of importance. We are often told as children that we need to respect our elders. The reason for this respect is almost never mentioned. It is usually expected to be something that needs to be done. If asked, why, often the answer would be because I said so. Sounds familiar?

We unintentionally place importance on fear rather than love. We are god-fearing as opposed to god-loving. So when you fear someone, you will respect them and therefore you need to obey them. Why not we respect everyone? There is no denying the fact that respecting others is an attribute we need to imbibe in our children. But at the same time, it is important to do so in the right manner. More importantly, respect is earned and not demanded and that respect is not only for elders but for everyone alike. Now, let us delve further into what goes into raising respectful children.

Respect vs Obey

Before we move on to how we can imbibe this quality in kids, let us understand the difference between respect and obey. I have often seen parents and adults confuse the two. Obeying is doing as asked especially by an authority figure. It usually happens with someone who is bigger than you. Also, it means doing something without asking questions. Does that sound positive to you like respect? This is one unlearning we need to do as adults in order to approach towards raising respectful children. You can know more by reading this. So let’s start taking things in a new context and now focus on a positive attribute that is respect.

Tips for raising respectful children

  1. Stay calm and don’t react

When you see your child disrespecting you, instead of reacting, just observe and stay calm. See what that situation must have triggered for your child. Observe what needs to be modified to get the right change. When adults react and lose their temper, they lose their ability to be heard. What your child observes is anger and the tone of your voice. The message gets lost in that reaction. So, be mindful of not reacting impulsively.

  1. Model what you expect

I always talk about modeling the behavior that you expect from your child. We know children learn from their environment and what we present to them becomes their reality. So why not do the same for your child? Give them back that respect. Respect their opinions, their thoughts, and their choices. Let them choose for themselves whilst drawing your rules and boundaries. Yes, it can work out!

  1. Communicate

Talk it out! Ensure that you are giving your kids a chance to put their thoughts in front of you. It cannot be a one-way communication. Talk about what respect means to them and how they can show it to others and themselves. Talk about your experiences with respect as well. This will help them understand your thoughts too. For the little ones, you can use a story to talk about respecting others.

  1. Show and tell

Teaching your child polite responses to use can be helpful. Showing them how to apologize and take responsibility for their actions is a good idea. If they don’t have the right words for what they want to say, you can help by offering some. Using fun activities and games, we can teach our kids to say ‘Thank you’, ‘sorry’ and ‘please’.  Similarly using positive examples like teaching them how to talk to the house help or a person working for you can work too.

  1. Positive Discipline

We often think of discipline as a negative term. But have you ever thought about what could happen if you use positive disciplining strategies? Studies have shown that positive parenting helps in making stronger parent-child bonds and boosting children’s self-esteem. You can read my article on positive parenting to know more.


Sayee Deshpande
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